Queen of the Damned

Release Date: February 22, 2002

There's something unsettling about this one.

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A movie that has been frequently bounced around on the release schedule, Queen of the Damned is ostensibly the sequel to the popular 1994 Interview with the Vampire, the adaptation of the first book in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. Not one member of the original cast is returning, and the second book in the series, The Vampire Lestat, is being inexplicably skipped (though several plot points from the book will be included in QoD).

Although the script apparently takes many liberties, the basic storyline of Queen of the Damned remains intact. Lestat is a rock-star vampire who draws the attention of Akasha, the titular queen and one of the two "original" vampires who have been in a kind of slumber for 6,000 years. After she awakens, she determines that men are so violent that the only thing to be done is kill almost all of them, and she hopes Lestat will join her in her mission.

Aaliyah plays the queen and is the biggest star this film can boast. Since her only starring role to date has been in Romeo Must Die, it is difficult to determine how much weight her name will carry. The remainder of the cast is comprised primarily of unknowns, including Stuart Townsend in the pivotal Lestat role and the delightful Lena Olin (Chocolat) as Maharet. Nonetheless, this series of books has such a devoted fan base that casting should be unimportant if the movie appears to be a quality product.

In July of 2001, Anne Rice said that she is hearing only good things about the filming of Queen of the Damned and noted that Warner Bros. is extremely enthusiastic about the movie's prospects. Rice also met Townsend and believes him to be an excellent fit for the role of Lestat. If the author ultimately gives this film her stamp of approval, I would expect such news to be highly publicized, which will boost the box office prospects.

In November of 1994, Interview with the Vampire opened to $36.39 million, but I hesitate to use it as a good basis for comparison for Queen of the Damned. Tom Cruise's presence in that film clearly places it on a different level, though the remainder of the now-superstar cast was relatively unknown at the time Interview was released. I also am reluctant to judge Queen of the Damned's potential against other recent vampire movies, as Queen of the Damned has the fans of the books as additional built-in audience. Anne Rice holds a lot of power in the weeks preceding the movie's release. If this movie gains any degree of notoriety because of either positive or negative reaction from the author, it will certainly be possible for it to break out despite its lack of star power. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

August 25, 2001
Aayilah was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas, and this leaves the status of this film, not to mention the Matrix sequels, with a number of question marks. Stay tuned to see how this tragedy affects Queen of the Damned's release. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

February 19, 2002
It really is quite strange, and perhaps even unsettling, to see Aaliyah's face all over television almost six months after her tragic death. Made up as a scantily clad temptress, she comes across as evil and seductive, yet it is a strangely haunting experience to hear her name being used to promote a film. While the advertising has been in very good taste and has not resorted to pushing this as the late singer's final film, or even utilizing this fact to its financial advantage, one can't help but feel a strange sadness. Maybe it is uncertainty about how to feel about being drawn to a film by someone who has already passed, or even uncertainty about seeing a beautiful woman as she craftily seduces the audience with the knowledge that she has passed away. All this is strange and yet the people pushing Queen of the Damned, ironically a movie about death, have chosen not to exploit the actress' unfortunate demise to their benefit.

The media has certainly picked up on that, however. Some media are calling it her legacy, which is a bit of an exaggeration, and some are calling it her finest work, which not too many people can argue considering the slim body of work she attained in her short life. One thing that is sure is that this was going to be the first true test of Aaliyah's talent; the first film in which she would be allowed, in fact needed to, carry the film. Thankfully for us, her scenes were nearly all finished and the indication of what could have been will be up there on the screen. In the meantime, we can easily see that she had the on-screen charisma and charm to sell a movie.

Other than promising to be visually entertaining, the film looks like it will offer the good old standard of vampire goodness except with a punched degree of sexuality. To say it looks intriguing would be an understatement. It will most probably have the fans of Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat out by the droves as Rice's books enjoy a rabid and loyal fan base. They alone should make Queen of the Damned a modest hit at the very least. In addition to the built-in fan base, all the media coverage devoted to the late actress' final film, a recent dry spell in horror movies in the market, and an intriguing, interesting and appealing look should give Queen of the Damned a killer box office debut. (Walid Habboub/BOP)

Vital statistics for Queen of the Damned
Main Cast Aaliyah, Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moreau
Supporting Cast Vincent Perez, Paul McGann, Lena Olin
Director Michael Rymer
Screenwriter Scott Abbott, Michael Petroni
Distributor Warner Bros.
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site http://queenofthedamned.warnerbros.com/
Rating R
Running Time 101 minutes
Screen Count 2,511
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for Queen of the Damned
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Interview with a Vampire 11/11/9436.39 53.78 2604 13975.00 19866.4 105.26 155.56 2.89
Romeo Must Die 3/24/0018.01 20.14 2641 6819.00 7337.7 55.97 62.61 2.74
Blade 8/21/9817.07 21.94 2322 7351.00 9090.8 70.10 90.12 4.11
John Carpenter's Vampires 10/30/989.11 11.71 1793 5081.00 6283.5 19.92 25.61 2.19
Forsaken, The 4/27/013.02 3.22 1514 1995.00 2048.0 6.76 7.21 2.24



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